5 Facts You May Not Know About Heated Flooring

Winter is coming, and while there is much to love about this time of year (holidays, pumpkin spice, wearing sweatshirts without judgement), there is one thing that no one looks forward to. I am speaking, of course, about the jolting chill of walking on cold tile flooring during the winter months.

Schluter Ditra Heat

The Ditra Heat System

Fortunately, radiant heated floors allow you to avoid the uncomfortable journey from the bedroom to the shower and back. While many hear the term “heated floors” and think of a luxury reserved for the uber-rich, you may be surprised at how affordable–and practical–heated floors have become. Here are 5 facts you need know about heated flooring right now:

Heated Floors Are Nothing New

The idea of radiant heating is old. Very old. Radiant heating dates all the way back to Ancient Rome, when fires were built under lofted homes and heat was filtered up through ceramic pipes–warming the house without polluting the air. Although this system was highly inefficient, it served as an early precursor to the radiant heating systems that we use today.

Ancient Roma Heating Diagram

Diagram of ancient Rome heating system

Heated Flooring Is Efficient

Forced air HVAC systems heat houses by introducing warm air which quickly rises to the highest point in a room or house. The result is a significant amount of energy being used to heat an entire room. HVAC systems also maintain temperature by turning on and off intermittently, which results in temperatures varying between too warm and too cold throughout the day. HVAC systems also waste a significant amount of energy through the ductwork between rooms in the house.

Conversely, radiant heating heats from the ground up at a constant temperature, so the warmth is always close. While replacing your HVAC system entirely with a radiant heating system may not be feasible, floor heating can be used to effectively supplement the HVAC in your house.

Heated Flooring Costs Less Than You Think

Heated flooring used to work by running heated water through copper pipes embedded into the groundwork of a house or room. The result was very expensive, easily damaged due to shifting subfloors, and was really only possible to install during the original construction. While more modern hydronic systems are still available, new electrically heated floors have been developed that be installed for a fraction of the price of earlier systems. These electric heating systems range from pre-cut mats that can be linked together to fit a room’s specific dimensions to systems that integrate heating elements into a decoupling membrane beneath the tile.

Schluter Ditra Heat Components

Ditra Heat Components

Heated Flooring Is Easy To Install

Part of the reason for the lowered cost in radiant heating systems is the ease with which they can now be installed. While earlier systems required major work to be done to install, newer systems can be installed easily when installing a new floor with very little additional labor costs. The system is simply placed in the thinset, and controlled by a wall-mounted thermostat. This means that installing a floor heating system isn’t limited to the time during original construction, but it can also be done quickly and easily anytime a renovation is being done and the floor is being updated. Check out this video by Mike Holmes from Holmes on Homes where he shows how easy it is to install the Schluter Ditra Heat system:

5. Heated Flooring Can Go In Most Rooms

Most people think of heated flooring being installed in the bathroom, but it can also be installed in other rooms given the right flooring. While it is possible to install a radiant heating system under hardwood floors, the changes in temperature can lead to warping or gaps created in the wood. Luckily, porcelain wood look tiles provide the beauty of wood with the conductivity of porcelain, so you can enjoy heated floors in nearly any space without sacrificing style! Many homeowners (particularly in the North) enjoy heated flooring in their basements, kitchens, or even bedrooms.

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